WPC clears 2 new Community Radio licences

In a recent development, two new organisations make their way into the domain of operational Community Radio Stations in the country. Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Agwanpur has launched its Community Radio Station by the name Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Barh. Broadcasting on the frequency of 91.2 MHz, the Community Radio Station will be focusing on agriculture related programmes and activities.

Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Barh is the fifth Community Radio Station to become operational in Bihar. It will also be the first KVK based Community Radio Station of the state.

Based in Uttar Pradesh, S D College of Pharmacy & Vocational Studies became the 23rd organisation to get a Wireless Operating Licence (WOL) in the state and the second latest organisation to receive the licence from the Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing (WPC), under the Ministry of Communications and IT. Elaborating on the core themes of their radio station, Station Director Siddhartha Sharma said, “Radio SD will focus on programmes related to agriculture, education, labour and youth. The station will be formally launched on  June 1, 2015 and will broadcast initially for eight hours on a regular basis.”

This takes the tally of operational Community Radio Stations in India to 185. Out of these 185, only 10 operational Community Radio Stations belong to the agriculture category. Apart from these 10, 65 Community Radio Stations are operated by NGOs. These factual figures raise a very important concern as to why most of the licenses are granted to educational institutions only.

The Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing (WPC) has cleared six Wireless Operating Licenses (WOL) in the past couple of months. Showing a positive sign towards the growth of Community Radio movement across the country, WPC has issued Decision to Grant W/T Licenses (D/L) and Standing Advisory Committee for Frequency Allocation (SACFA)clearances very frequently in the last couple months.

Recently, while responding to an RTI query, WPC has said that they have issued WOLs to six organisations out of 25 pending applications. In case of the remaining applicants, “The complete requisite documents, such as copy of invoice, copy of Dealer Possession License (DPL), and spectrum charges have not been submitted by applicants. Further, in many cases in the list, the Decision letters have expired long ago due to non-payment of spectrum charges by the applicants.”

At this point, it is important to note that 100 plus frequency and 20 plus SACFA clearances are pending for clearance with WPC. With discussions on policy revision is still in the process, there is an urgent need to cut short the time consumed in awarding FA/ SACFA clearances to Community Radio applicants . A number of organisations showing interest for setting up Community Radio Stations take a back step due to the time consuming licensing procedure.

Author: Rupica Saxena Bisht, CRFC/ OneWorld